Thursday, July 07, 2005

The magic of childhood

Tonight was the first Open Mat night at the karate dojo. Sam has really taken to the bigger kids' cirriculum with some serious passion and he darn well better, considering that now we're paying $60 a month for his classes. When we heard about the rate change my first instinct was to pull him flat out and be done with it. But my gosh, the kid has such love for it and really seems to want to do it. So I had a serious talk with him about it. I told him that if his daddy and I were going to pay that kind of money for lessons, he was going to have to be serious about it. That meant practicing with the target we bought him for Christmas (That up until now has been one handy-dandy coat rack) on a daily basis, really striving for true "Black Belt behavior" on a daily basis and some serious paying of attention in class. Oh and I told him that if he started his own dojo as an adult and made oodles of money like his Sensei is making, that'd be okay, too. He nodded very seriously and said that he was serious about earning a black belt and promised to practice like crazy. So far he has held up his end of the bargain.

One thing about Sam - he may be a bit of a ornery little shit sometimes, but when that kid gets something in his head, he goes for it with everything in him. So when he heard about Open Mat night and that all levels would train together for an extra hour and a half a week, he just HAD to go. When school starts I'm not sure we can manage staying up till 9:30, but we'll see.

So tonight he and I loaded up and went to town. He was very quiet on the way to town and I knew he was nervous, so I just kept the conversation light and found songs he liked on the radio. He was one of the littlest ones there and even though he's an outgoing kid, seemed a little overwhelmed by all of the higher ranks there. I dropped him off then left for awhile. When I came back he was lined up with all the others along the wall, listening to Sensei talk about making mistakes and learning from them. A rather uplifting speech, even for a non-karate-knowing mother, I gotta say. Then Sensei took to the middle of the mat and did one very impressive kata. A kata, for those who don't know, is a routine of sorts. A series of movements - kicks, punches, blocks, etc. - that everyone learns according to their rank. Everyone sat in awe. Even the parents.

Sam's been training with Sensei for over a year now and we've never gotten to see any real Black Belt-ish stuff from him. I've also had a bit of a crush on the guy for the entire time Sam's trained with him and seeing him tonight, all serious and stern looking while fighting that imaginary warrior in front of him, that crush level rose about 47 degrees, even if the dude did cut off his sexy ponytail awhile back. He's still one hot karate dude. Digress? Why yes, I believe I did.

When he finished, he stepped back and said, "Who's next?" Boy, Sam's hand flew up in the air and immediately my stomach sunk and I thought, "No, little guy! You SO don't know enough to get out there in front of all these people!" I saw an older belt say something to him and he lowered his hand. By then another Black Belt was up there, fighting that same imaginary warrior with different, although impressive, moves. And more and more went up to do the same. When all of the Black Belts had done their thing, some of the lower ranking belts went out and did some pretty impressive stuff as well. I could see Sam faunching and fidgeting and kept praying that he wouldn't make it onto the mat. I could see him get out there and doing what he does in the middle of the living room floor when he's playing Ninja Turtles. I couldn't imagine how embarrassed he was going to be.

I should know by now to never underestimate my kids.

The next kid had no sooner left the mat and there was my Sam walking out to the middle. He looked so small and so confident at the same time. (Oh I'm getting all misty eyed just writing this.) He closed his eyes, took a deep, concentrating breath and got into fighting stance. What was my child going to do and how bad were the tears going to be when he got embarrassed? I know my face was red, I could feel it burning. Then, wow, he started doing the only series of moves he knows - a "seven step". And he did it so well! He was concentrating and looked very serious. When he finished the room was silent. Then Sensei said - and I'm sure I heard pride in his voice then - "Well done, Sam. Now do it with the left hand." And he did. He's struggled with the left hand all week, practicing it diligently, but still it wasn't as strong as the right. But he did it. When he finished and rambled off something in Japanese that they're supposed to say when they're finished, then bowed to his Sensei, the room exploded into loud applause. He was positively beaming! I was teary and my heart was pounding and I sat there postively beaming, myself. Sensei then told the class that Sam had only been in the kids' cirriculum for two weeks and was already performing in front of Black Belts and that he could definitely see a Black Belt for him as well.

That precious little boy of mine nearly floated off that mat.

The rest of the class time was spent watching everyone spar and he even did some grappling, practicing some take-down moves. He wanted to free fight, but we haven't had the money to get his pads yet. They're $100. We just haven't had it. He crawled up on my lap while he was watching a pair fight and said, "Mom, if I help you and Daddy and we all three put our money together, can we hurry up and get me some pads?" I wanted to cry. I nodded and told him, with a lump in my throat, that as soon as we got the money he would have pads so he could fight. He seemed satisfied and jumped down to go practice a take-down on a sassy little red-head named Molly who'd taken him down a few times. He was bound and determined to get her.

I bragged to his daddy when we got home and then everyone had celebratory ice cream in the "special" cups with the teeny tiny spoons.


I bought the kids a book awhile back and we've been reading a chapter a night before bed. We're three chapters in so far to Hatching Magic by Ann Downer. It's a little above Sam and way above Kady. In fact, all three chapters so far have put her sound asleep in my lap. Sam usually ends up farting and fanning the covers and declaring to everyone how badly it stinks. But Abby...oh Abby is absolutely entranced by the book. It's about a wyvern and her quest to lay an egg, except she does it several centuries ahead of her When, by stepping through a "bolt-hole" in time. It's all about magic and wizardry and, obviously, dragons. I'm thoroughly enjoying it as well. So tonight as I read the chapter, I swear Abby held her breath the entire time, releasing it in one big, contented sigh as I shut the book. I scooped up her sleeping sister and she followed me into their room. She climbed up to her bed as I tucked Kady in. When I leaned on the rail, as I do every night, she peeked through at me and said, "Mom? Do you really think there's such things as wyverns?" I grinned and said, "Hmh...I'm not sure. Do you think there are wyverns?" She grinned as wide as I've ever seen her grin, nodded enthusiastically and caught her breath. "Oh yessssssss! Yes, there just have to be! There just have to be wyverns out there!"

Yes, I think that there are definitely wyverns out there. Especially in her dreams tonight.


Anonymous said...

You are so blessed with the children you were given. They are so special!

JHGagle said...

:::tears up::: That story...was beautiful! :::sniff, sniff::: He was actually going to pay for his own stuff. All kidding aside, he sounds like a great kid. Awesome stuff!

Irish Divinity said...

Ok, if I had absolutely any money right now I would pitch it in to help get those pads!! He sounds awesome!!

Queen Of Cheese said...

I've got baseball catchers gear, football pads, basketball knee pads, surely between all that crap there are Karate pads...I'll keep looking. Can we piece together some other sports stuff to make Karate stuff? I'm fairly handy with duct tape and zip-ties.

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